Mayor and Council - Listen to everyone

It's my understanding from an article in the Times Colonist () that Council will be considering the Concert Properties application for rezoning and a development permit for the lot at Belleville and Douglas, where the old Crystal Court Motel was; and specifically that you will be deciding whether to recommend that Council require a public hearing.

As someone who works with low-income people in that neighbourhood who will be affected by the proposed development, I ask that you require the plan go to public hearing. I am concerned that there has not been sufficient opportunity for public input on the plan, and that the proposal in its current form is 100 percent market rate rental/condominiums which means zero percent housing for people with low incomes. I'm particularly concerned about the impacts on seniors on pensions or other fixed income who are in desperate need of affordable housing. Multiple recent studies have identified increases in homelessness among seniors and I think the proposal in its current form is unacceptable in a city with such a dire shortage of affordable rental stock.

Although quoted in the Times Colonist, the development manager identifies that "Whether you are a condominium owner or a renter, it doesn't matter. Everybody is treated the same. Everybody gets the same access to services....It really is a complete community," I do not believe in the vision of a "completely community" that does not include people with very low incomes. I see the development as currently proposed as part of a wave of gentrification sweeping through downtown and North Park, creating upscale housing and amenities that are inhospitable to the vision of diverse and fully inclusive communities. I wonder what the impact of this development will be on people who are currently sleeping in MEEGAN/Beaconhill Park, St. Ann's Academy, and other green spaces close by, as in other communities where similarly upscale developments have been put in place advocates have reported increased criminalization of people who are homeless.

From the comments quoted in the Times Colonist by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association, I do not believe that people living in poverty have had the appropriate opportunity yet to provide public input. Their quoted main concern is that the proposed building looks like an apartment building and not a "signature building." I do not view this as at all representative of the many low-income seniors in James Bay whom I think would have very different concerns.

For these reasons I believe a public hearing is an appropriate next step, so that there can be an opportunity for people with low incomes to have their voices heard.

Joshua Goldberg

Victoria City Council voted on November 17 in favour of bringing the seniors housing proposal to public hearing.


JBNA responds

The duly elected board of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association would appreciate the opportunity to respond to the letter to the October 2016 Beacon authored by V Adams.

Firstly, as the duly elected Board our mandate is to hold monthly meetings for members of the public and to bring forward applications of citizens and/or their representative regarding land use. Other land use matters including streets and parks also fall within the JBNA mandate.

The association also addresses citizens’ concerns regarding social and environmental impacts such as; air quality, noise, traffic, people movement, and other activities that either positively or negatively impact the quality of life in our community.

Those concerns are then raised with the parties creating the impact as well as local governance representatives; City of Victoria, members of the Legislature, and Federal government representatives.

Our annual general meeting is held every April and the board provides a copy of the previous AGM minutes and financial report. 

The association receives a $3506.66 annual grant from the City of Victoria which assists in the payment of rental fees (New Horizons) for the annual and general monthly meetings, printing of correspondence, website maintenance, photocopying, and rental(s) of area halls and audio equipment for special event meetings such as all-candidates meetings held during municipal, provincial, and federal elections for our community residents. 

Regular monthly meetings are held the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the New Horizons centre normally from 7pm to 9pm and the previous month’s minutes and board reports are provided at these meetings in a written format. 

Our Board refutes Ms Adams’ allegations that our board is not transparent and that the board members have shown a bias toward special interest groups such as land developers and others. The board takes a proactive stance on all developments within the community and encourages developers/owners to bring forward their intended changes to our Community Association Land Use Committee (CALUC) whether rezoning of the property is required or not. 

All comments made by the community members attending the monthly JBNA meetings on the CALUC presentation are done in an open mic format. Particular attention is paid to capture the comments of those community members whose residences are within 100 metres of the proposed development. Those comments are recorded by the recording secretary and are included in the monthly JBNA communication to the city and community. JBNA also makes provision to circulate correspondence received/sent by JBNA at the monthly meetings for the perusal by the community members attending the meeting. This practice may be unique; however, the JBNA board believes strongly in the openness and transparency of its meetings.

The Board does not take a position on development applications, except on very rare occasions where the application does not respect the City’s Official Community Plan and/or the James Bay Neighbourhood Plan. It is our mandate to convey the positive or negative opinions of those attending the community meeting and communicating those opinions to the City and the community members. It should also be noted that opinions expressed by community members do not necessarily reflect the views of the JBNA organization or its Board members.

As members of the community we too are entitled to make our own comment on any particular topic, however our comments are reserved to that as a member of the community not that of a board member.

The various developments as cited by Ms Adams received exactly the same consideration as any other proponent presentation. The comments from those in attendance at the monthly meeting presentation are presented to the city and community members as recorded.

This is a voluntary board; those who participate do so because we care deeply about our community and Ms Adams attempt to sully the good character of this dedicated group of individuals is both disingenuous and insulting.



Laura Neil

Secretary, James Bay Neighbourhood Association

Resident of James Bay